Author: Heather Hamilton

May 29, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Like there are many ways of expressing love, there are also many forms of love. The love of a friend, family member or significant other are all types of love that everyone experiences at one point or another, sometimes for better or for worse.

“of love” is a multimedia art exhibition being held at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in June, and is UAA adjunct professor Enzina Marrari’s emotional brain-child.

May 29, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Viral ad campaigns and “leaked” information should be evil. They make fans feel preyed upon for their predictability, and stupid for being so excitable.

But man, do they get the job done.

Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a new live-action television show set to air on ABC, is just the latest show or movie to use the advertising technique. Along with its first promo trailer, short videos under 20 seconds long have been popping up depicting a variety of things related to the Marvel universe and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency. The “surveillance” videos are allegedly being posted on a blog called Rising Tide, which aims to uncover the truth about S.H.I.E.L.D.

That info alone suggests an interesting layer to the television show, indicating that such an organization will likely be a staple in the series. But viral marketing doesn’t just stop there; the blog actually exists, and it looks just like what one would expect of a blog dealing with a government agency. Allegedly their videos keep being taken down from an outside source, and they are angry about it and determined to continue their work.

That kind of depth in a marketing campaign brings out the best in fans and usually accomplishes its goal of raising interest.

Why should we feel bad about ourselves for falling for these ploys? Because we’re predictable, and the marketing companies know that as soon as we’re interested, they can count on us to either purchase their product or tune in to their show. We should feel bad because the campaigns trick us into feeling like we’re being invited to join in rather than being asked to watch the show or movie to earn its producers money. They trick us into feeling like whatever reality their product exists in is real, even if we know better.

That’s what the many viral ad campaigns did for the “Paranormal Activity” movies as well. For instance, in preparation for the second movie, several short viral videos were “leaked” onto the Internet. Some had hidden images, others had hidden video footage viewers had to scroll sideways to unlock, and still others had deleted or alternate scenes from the movie. One viral bit included a phone number for the home the first movie took place in, and any curious fans who dialed it heard an answering machine message for the couple. The movies are supposed to be scary, and their viral campaign tried to keep the creep factor high and succeeded.

Viral ad campaigns are meant to capture our attention and entertain us. They are meant to hold our interest long enough for the product to be obtainable, so that we’ll feel compelled to partake.

They work because we want to be entertained. We want something to ponder over and investigate, we want to feel like we’re special, like we have to unravel a mystery.

The latest mystery is “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which comes out sometime this fall. I personally don’t care about the secrets of this fictional organization though. There’s only one question I want Rising Tide to try to answer for us.

How the heck did Agent Coulson survive “The Avengers?”


 

May 29, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Heroes aren’t jokes.

Cartoon superheroes wearing their underwear on top of their pants are funny, and it’s perfectly fine to go nuts with the wisecracks. But the real heroes, men and women who presented a choice of “do or do not” and choose “do” — especially when risking their lives — are not jokes. They deserve respect.

Charles Ramsey is a hero. He heard a woman’s scream and instead of ignoring it or calling 911 and letting someone else deal with it, like many people would, he went to the source and freed a woman who had been missing for 10 years. His heroics then enabled two other missing women to also be freed from a house of horrors.

And all people really talk about when they mention him is how hilarious his interviews are. News stations are highlighting certain quotes while largely ignoring others. Internet memes are already popping up about his mention of eating McDonald’s when he heard the commotion. One YouTuber has even highlighted other quotes, such as the one where Ramsey talks about barbecuing with the women’s captors, and turning them into an auto-tuned song.

Ramsey’s heroic deed is not a joke. If one were to suddenly be bombarded with reporter after reporter after learning the neighbors were kidnappers and rapists, what would the average person say? Would he or she have a prepared script? Would that person be perfectly composed? The answer is no.

If it were me, I’d stare dumbly at the reporter and have no idea what to say. At least Ramsey was composed enough to speak and describe his version of events. Did he say something to make a few people chuckle? Apparently, but there isn’t really anything to laugh at in this situation. Look at the horror this man stumbled into. What would you say if you experienced it?

I love memes, and I spend way too much time on the Internet watching ridiculous videos, but not everything should be made into a joke.

Here’s what people should be focusing on: Three women believed to be dead are alive, and now free, because of this man. The FBI was offering up to a $25,000 reward for information aiding in the investigation of Amanda Berry’s disappearance. There was also a reward offered for information about another woman, Georgina DeJesus, though the amount was undisclosed.

Ramsey doesn’t want the reward and has said he would rather the women he saved have it. This is what we should be talking about. We should be talking about a selfless man saving three women believed to be dead and not wanting to be rewarded for it.

May 29, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Remember the song that played during the season three teaser-trailer for “Game of Thrones?” The intense drums and haunting lyrics made that one of the most epic trailers this year. It’s also the best song on MS MR’s debut album, “Secondhand Rapture.” MS MR is a New York-based duo comprised of singer Lizzy Plapinger and…

May 29, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Sometimes simplicity is the way to go. But simplicity with a subtle kick is often much more satisfying. Milbrandt Vineyards’s 2009 merlot is a deep reddish-purple, and at a 13.5 percent ABV, it’s also a decent hitter. The wine can be served either chilled or at room temperature, which is the traditional temperature for consumption….

May 29, 2013 Heather Hamilton

If anyone out there is concerned about how Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”) will perform as Khan in the new “Star Trek” movie, they needn’t worry. He owns this role.

Even his iconic line from the movie trailer gives off chills.

“Now, shall we begin?”

May 7, 2013 Heather Hamilton

In “The Avengers, ”Captain America had some choice words for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”): What is he worth once if Iron Man armor was removed from the equation? Tony offered a witty retort, but it isn’t until “Iron Man 3” that fans actually get to see what the…

May 1, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Don’t stop.
When seniors walk across the commencement stage and enter what professors and administrators call the “real world,” the things they had to do to graduate will fall to the wayside. Most won’t read 100 pages a night to keep up in their English classes. Most writers won’t write stories with difficult prompts. Most artists won’t challenge themselves with art techniques that don’t initially interest them. Most performers may not learn excruciatingly tedious pieces just for the sake of learning something new.
We seniors will be free, and we’ll let all the challenges we’ve had to endure for our education drop off us like they’re burdens rather than learning tools.
That’s a mistake. Because if we let ourselves go, we’ll forget.
I took biology my senior year of high school, and the only thing I can remember is the stench of formaldehyde and baby pig innards. And how long a pig’s long intestine is. And how freshmen scream when your teacher allows you to parade pig innards through the classroom next door for giggles.
But I digress. The point is that I don’t remember anything of relevance from that class six years later because I don’t use it every day.
I also took two years of French in high school, and then our program was cut. When I came to UAA, they refused to waive my language requirement. I failed to test out because I hadn’t studied it in two years and couldn’t remember anything. When I eventually took the class though, it all came bak after the first week. It was bliss! I coasted for the entire first semester because it covered everything I learned in high school, and the knowledge was still locked away in my head.
I love the French language, but it’s been another few years since I’ve studied it. Now if someone spoke French to me, I’d just stare at them and blink like an idiot. I let it happen again. But I’m confident that, because I love it so much, because I care, I could get it back just as easily as I did the first time.
A very wise man once told me that no new knowledge is wasted. So, my fellow peers, those things that it took to sharpen your mind and help earn you that degree? Don’t stop doing them. Creativity never dies, but skill does rot away when it goes unused.
Learn a piece by Mozart, even if you hate his compositions. Pull three writing prompts out of a hat and work them into a short story on a day off. Do you hate using watercolors? Practice it anyway. You never know when you’ll need these skills for that career you’ve been fighting all these years to be qualified for. Maybe a thing that was a past chore will turn into a joy, now that you’re doing it on your own terms instead of under the whip of a professor.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bone up on my French.
Félicitations, classe de 2013!

May 1, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Years of learning, hours of waiting, minutes in line,seconds of congratulations, one placeholder document — and finally, weeks later, your degree.

Now, what exactly do you do with it?

May 1, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Graduation parties are places for family, friends, food and fun. It’s also a place for beer and cocktails because most grads are over 21. One cocktail to stay away from is The Graduate from http://idrink.com. There are other variations of the recipe, but steer clear from this particular variation at all costs. To make this cocktail, pour one shot of Disaronno or other amaretto liqueur, one…

April 24, 2013 Heather Hamilton

‘Tis the summer of dystopian sci-fi movies. The pitcher is known for throwing curveballs, and first up to bat is Tom Cruise’s “Oblivi­on.” While it doesn’t strike out, it also doesn’t knock anything out of the ballpark.

April 24, 2013 Heather Hamilton

The zombie apocalypse is upon us, and the only way to get out alive is to act like the ene­my. You must shamble as they shamble, groan as they groan and drink what they drink — which, for the more sophisti­cated undead out there, is appar­ently a zinfandel.

April 23, 2013 Heather Hamilton

If there is one thing that is completely and utterly deplorable, it’s taking a mas­sive tragedy and creating lies about it.

Hours after the Boston Marathon trag­edy April 15, Photoshopped images and videos began circulating across the Inter­net, especially on Facebook. One image was of a little girl who was allegedly killed in the explosions while running on behalf of Sandy Hook Elementary.

Was a little girl really running for the memory of other children? Absolutely not.

Instead, an eight-year-old boy was killed while watching the race with his family. His mother was also injured and consequently had surgery because of a head injury.

Other than the image circulated with a little girl running, there were no reports of a little girl dying.

Was this tragedy not bad enough? Do people honestly feel the need to embellish and worsen matters by publishing fake stories with images of children?

“Family Guy” isn’t known for being tasteful, but even creator Seth MacFar­lane calls an Internet hoax involving the show deplorable. Someone mashed two clips from a March episode into a sequence that blatantly suggests the main character, Peter Griffin, bombed the Bos­ton Marathon.

In the real episode, the character merely ran over several runners to win.

As previously stated, “Family Guy” isn’t the most sensitive TV program around, but rearranging clips out of con­text and claiming the episode “predicted” the bombing is both horrific and utterly repulsive.

It can be hard to accept sometimes, but coincidences do happen. Conspiracy theories can also be fun — like the one saying aliens built the pyramids and the Egyptian government is hiding the evi­dence — but taking a genuinely awful event and making it seem worse is hor­rible.

“Family Guy” didn’t predict the Bos­ton Marathon bombing. A little girl didn’t die in the bombing either.

But a little boy was killed and his mother was hospitalized. Isn’t that ter­rible enough?

These happenings are heartbreaking as is. Why on earth do people feel like it’s their job to spread rumors to make events worse?

If you want to make the world a bet­ter place, act like one of those marathon runners who ran to a nearby Blood Bank location and donate your blood to save a life. When you discover that children have been murdered, send families cards and flowers. Consider donating money to help families give their children proper funerals — they don’t come cheap. I’m sure it would mean the world to some families to know people in their corner are praying or even just thinking of them.

If you want to make a difference, mis­informing the public is not the way to go.

April 9, 2013 Heather Hamilton

There’s a special place in “you-know-where” for bad mov­ie sequels. Unfortunately, it’s a very crowded place.

That doesn’t stop fans from getting excited though. Ellen DeGeneres just announced her involvement in Disney and Pix­ar’s upcoming sequel to “Finding Nemo.” the Internet is buzzing with general delight over “Find­ing Dory,” set to release in 2015.

But a good premise doesn’t mean it will be a good film. There are some general pitfalls that “Finding Dory” and other sequels need to avoid to live up to the quality of original movies.

First, all returning charac­ters should be portrayed by the original actors. This can be dif­ficult to accomplish with sched­uling and contract negotiations, but main characters need to have the same actor. To the audience, that actor is the character. No one else will ever live up to the first performance in most cases. If one of the original actors can­not be signed, a plausible rea­son should be given in the film for it. This method worked great for Megan Fox’s character in the latest “Transformers” movie — although, it may have helped that her character was replaced by a Victoria’s Secret model.

Second, certain themes from the first movie should be kept intact but shouldn’t go over­board. “The Lion King” did not have equally successful sequels, but at least writers maintained a literary subtext. The origi­nal movie was based loosely on “Macbeth,” while “Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride” was a happier retelling of “Romeo and Juliet.” “Lion King 1 1/2” may not have had this element, but it was a re-telling of the first movie from a different perspective, so the lack of subtext was made up for in other ways.

Third, a sequel should only be released in 3-D if the visual technology is integrated into the cinematographic composition. And I mean to James Cameron levels of epic, such as in “Ava­tar.” Anything less is a waste of moviegoers’ time and money. The Cameron model shouldn’t be followed exactly, though. An original plot should never be for­saken for incredible 3-D effects. That is also a no-no.

Fourth, no questions should remain unanswered. The “Saw” movies do a remarkable job of this. Overall, any question from the surprisingly intricate sev­en-movie series was eventually answered. It was very gratify­ing for those who cared about more than the guts and gore being spilled every five minutes. The only problem was that it sometimes took three movies to answer a question; in one case, it took six movies to answer the question of whether or not a char­acter had survived the first mov­ie. If funding for production had been cut off after any given mov­ie, at least two to three main plot points would be left unanswered. Waiting too long to answer the questions is dangerous, even if you fully intend to do it eventu­ally.

Fifth, if a movie is a box office hit, the production pro­cess for the sequel should start right away to feed the audience’s desire for more. Marvel has already released a five-minute teaser about its second phase of hero movies leading up to “The Avengers 2.” The company has even given fans a timeline. “Iron Man 3” will be released later this year. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” are both slated for 2014 releases. “Ant-Man” is planned for 2015, thought it is slated to be released after “The Avengers. “The Avengers 2,” by the way, has a tentative release date for May 1, 2015.

This is how to successfully sell sequels and the movies lead­ing up to them. It is necessary to plan ahead and take the effort to make the first installments wor­thy of a follow-up.

DeGeneres is signed on and excited for “Finding Dory.” If Disney and Pixar take care of the story and its characters, it’ll be a great movie for everyone who enjoyed “Finding Nemo.” The success of the beloved “Toy Story” trilogy proves Pixar is capable of a multi-generational series. And while many mov­ies are forced to endure terrible sequels, there are definitely steps that production companies can take to make the most of them.

April 9, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Imagine taking a summer trip to Washington D.C. It’s warm and sunny, so you decide to make a day of it and explore the National Mall monuments. But when you get there, it isn’t as pictured in the brochure. Instead of grass and statues, you see bones all over the ground, one million ghostly bones.

April 9, 2013 Heather Hamilton

There’s something to be said about pretty packaging. While it’s never smart to judge a book, or wine, by its cover, doing so might just lead to an interesting and new experience.

April 3, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Warning: Review contains spoilers for the first two “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels

There should be a support group for fans of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” No human can possibly take the punishment Martin doles out to readers.

April 3, 2013 Heather Hamilton

People don’t visit Alaska for the culture.

With mountains, wildlife, glaciers and cruises, we have such a breathtakingly beautiful state that people will travel from all over the world to see and be a part of.

March 27, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Search the Internet for director Antoine Fuqua (“Shooter” 2007, “Training Day” 2001) and you will have a pretty good idea of what you are getting yourself into. “Olympus Has Fallen” is classic Fuqua, complete with political implications, blood, sweat, tense relationships and tears, all wrapped up with a happy ending.

March 27, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Jellybeans don’t just come in Easter baskets anymore.

This shooter will knock you on your rump, so pay attention. Pour half an ounce of the blackberry brandy into a shot glass, filling it about a third of the way. Slowly pour in a third of a shot of Sambuca, which will layer it due to the differing densities of the alcohols. Layer the Southern Comfort on top.

Sit back and admire your handiwork if you got it right. Layering is difficult if you’ve never done it before.

The scent of this Jelly Bean shot is sweet and a little fruity. Drink it all in one gulp — you’re not meant to taste it until after you swallow.

Once you do though, there’s an immediate burn from the brandy. It’s not horrible, and it paves the way for the delectable jellybean taste that follows. Sambuca is an anise-flavored liqueur, and what else does anise flavor? Licorice. This flavor morphs the sweetness of the blackberry brandy and SoCo into something exactly like a jellybean. It’s uncanny and delicious.

Whether you get the layering correct or not doesn’t affect the flavor, so don’t despair if you mess it up. You’ll have a delicious and relatively strong shooter either way.

Drink: Jelly Bean

Ingredients: Blackberry brandy, Sambuca, Southern Comfort

ABV: ~37.33%

Rating: 5/5

March 18, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Worse than planking and leagues away from flash mobbing is the “Harlem Shake” craze. Not only is it pointless, but it’s also a horrible parody of something cool.

Here’s a basic breakdown of a standard “Harlem Shake” video: One person, often wearing a mask or helmet, begins repeating a simple dance move, usually a pelvic thrust or a shrugging motion while leaning from side to side. While this is happening, the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer plays in the background. Once the lyrics “do the Harlem Shake” pass, the bass drops and the video cuts to a shot of the same room with several people in eccentric outfits doing strange dance moves, such as humping the air or doing the worm. Each video is roughly 30 seconds long.

Comedian Filthy Frank uploaded the first video to YouTube Jan. 30. It was being used as an opener for the rest of his video, but the intro caught like wildfire. By Feb. 2, several parody videos were uploaded to YouTube, and the video meme only grew from there.

Some incarnations of the trend are genuinely interesting. In Egypt, four pharmaceutical students were arrested for violating the country’s strict indecency laws when they stripped to their underwear in a middle-class neighborhood to film their version of the video. Another, much larger group managed to get away with it however — in front of the Great Pyramids, no less.

In both Egypt and Tunisia, the Harlem Shake craze is being used as protests against social and personal restrictions as well.

It is impressive that an Internet trend can play a role in global politics — but the reality of the trend being the Harlem Shake leaves much to be desired.

The real Harlem Shake is a dance move created in 1981 by a Harlem resident named Al B. The dance was originally named after him before being referred to as the “Harlem Shake.” It was popularized in a G. Dep music video for the song “Let’s Get It” in 2001.

The first Harlem Shake video by Filthy Frank only uses this dance move and blatantly makes a mockery of it. Many other videos do the same, even if they don’t realize it.

In later a video called “Harlem’s Reaction to the Harlem Shake,” many Harlem residents expressed frustration toward the video parodies.

One man said, “I feel like they’re trying to disrespect us.” A few seconds later, a girl said, “They’re making us look bad.”

I’m sure the residents of Harlem can take a joke as much as anyone else, but this particular dance is deeply rooted in Harlem culture. It is an expression of the area’s cultural identity. Parodies of that identity are degrading and ultimately erode the identity itself. That’s never OK.

While many have proclaimed the meme’s death, it’s still cropping up in new places, such as Alaska.

On March 4, Daniel Burgess published a Harlem Shake video of Sand Lake Community Council members on YouTube. There’s nothing very inappropriate about the video, but the fact that it exists is disappointing, especially since Burgess is the president of the council.

On a larger scale, “Supernatural” stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki recently produced a version of the Harlem Shake featuring themselves and the show’s cast and crew. It may be a marketing scheme, but new popular videos prevent the trend from dying out.

And it needs to. It’s a mockery of an awesome, existing dance move, and the parody portrayal of it is tasteless.

Even the “Gangnam Style” trend was better than this — all it did was make people look silly. Flash mobbing was fantastic and can be used to both invite spectators to participate (as was done in a “New Dances” performance at UAA last year) and make a point about something socially.

Why can’t activists speaking out about social rights try those things? Surely the message would be so much stronger if its presentation was less cringe-worthy.

And please, can the next Internet phenomenon be less horrific?

March 18, 2013 Heather Hamilton

When looking for a new drink to try, don’t just Google a combination of your favorite ingredients and pick the easiest one — especially if it has a ridiculous name.

For fans of Kahlúa and vanilla vodka, the Mind Eraser may seem appealing, but it’ll disappoint if you find the wrong recipe.

This regrettable version calls for three ounces of Kahlúa, three ounces of vanilla vodka, a splash of club soda and ice. Either combine the ingredients and stir, or pour them into a shaker and go nuts. Ice in the drink is OK.

The problem with this recipe is that no ingredient is added to dilute the Kahlúa. Sure, the club soda and vodka are there, but there isn’t enough of either to do the job properly. The club soda only adds fizz.

The flavor is sweet and thick, almost syrupy. It smells and tastes like straight Kahlúa. The vanilla vodka is completely hidden. Other than carbonation and bubbles, you’re essentially drinking straight Kahlúa. The kick, depending on how generous you are with the vodka, doesn’t come until the end, when the vodka’s burn hits the back of your throat.

That’s it — the drink is essentially just lightly carbonated Kahlúa with a vodka burn.

Wasting alcohol is a party foul, whether you’re at a party or not. And because this drink is so sweet and syrupy, you’d consider it if you made the mistake of mixing one yourself.

But, there’s a quick fix to make the cocktail more palatable and last longer: Turn it into a carbonated White Russian.

Grab some milk, half-and-half creamer or liquid non-dairy creamer, and pour it into the glass. Add to taste and then stir.

The end result is leagues better than the Mind Eraser. And remember the overall lesson here: Google can find what you’re looking for, but it doesn’t always know if the result is good.

 

Drink: Mind Eraser

Ingredients: Kahlúa, vanilla vodka, club soda, ice

ABV: ~30.5%

Rating: 1

March 6, 2013 Heather Hamilton

Everyone has at least one woman in their life that has influenced and guided them. For many it’s their mother, for others their grandmother, sister, wife or even just a friend. If you’re not much of a cook, but want to treat some special lady in your life to a home-cooked meal, here’s an easy recipe that is sure to impress.